What to Say When Calling a Donor to Schedule a Visit

Image courtesy of Pong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Pong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You know that it’s important to build relationships with your donors. After all, relationship-building is at the heart of fundraising. What better way to build a relationship than to visit with someone in person?

As a new fundraiser if there was one thing that filled me with terror, it was making a call to a donor to invite them to meet with me. What was I going to say? What if they didn’t want to meet? What if they told me to get lost?

A donor is unlikely to tell you to get lost – at least not in those words! – but here are 4 tips to increase your chances of successfully scheduling a donor visit:

1. Have a real reason to visit

Your donors are busy people. The bigger the donor, the busier they are likely to be. So don’t waste their time by asking for a meeting “just to get together.”

Have a real reason to visit with them.

One of my favorite reasons to invite a donor to get together is to seek their advice. People love sharing advice and it’s often very helpful for a nonprofit to hear the perspective of those outside the organization—so it’s a win-win.

The post Ask For Advice shares more about advice visits including a sample email to land one. And you can find more reasons to visit, including the “get-to-know-you visit” and “Meet a VIP” here.

2. Make it easy

Think about the potential visit from the donor’s perspective. Sure, they love your mission and the good work your organization is doing (or they wouldn’t be donating to your cause) but they have other things in their life. Maybe they work a busy job or run their own company. Maybe they have family obligations, volunteer commitments or other pulls on their time.

You want to make meeting with your donors as easy as possible for them. Before you call, think about ways you can make it easier for a donor to say yes, such as:

  • Offer to come to them: How about going to their office or home or a venue close by?
  • Make it short: Why meet for a whole hour if 20-30 minutes will do the trick?
  • Suggest a date and time: Giving your donor a starting point can help pin down a visit.

3. Use a script

A script will help you put it all together and will boost your confidence before the call. After you’ve done a number of these calls you may not need a script, but it’s a great tool for beginners.

Here is a sample script, incorporating tips outlined above.

“Hi, this is Kathie calling from The Awesome Nonprofit. Is this Jane? Hi Jane, I’m calling to see if you’d like to have coffee one day soon. You had mentioned your interest in our e-newsletter and I would love your advice on some ideas we have for redesigning it. Is Tuesday the 9th at 11am good for you? I’m happy to meet at a coffee shop near your home or wherever is convenient for you.”

Chances are you will not rattle off this whole script without taking a breath—you’ll want to give Jane, your donor, a chance to answer! —but you get the idea.

4. Practice what you’ll say (out loud)

If practicing out loud, sounds uncomfortable, keep in mind: it’s more comfortable than stumbling over your words with an actual donor on the other end of the line.

And if you think you’ll be leaving a message, you should also practice your message before you call.

Sometimes fundraisers ask if it’s better to call or email donors to ask for a visit. I like to do both—and you can do it two ways. Either call first and then follow up with an email or email first and follow up with a call.

What are your thoughts on calling donors? Please share your thoughts, tips and advice in the Comments box below!

Special gift for you: Conquer Your Fear of Asking for Money, a step-by-step guide, is available here (click).